Listening is a not only a great way to relax, but it is a great way to better your craft. For the purposes of music, there are a two main types of listening:
- Active listening, where one is directly engaged in the sound and questioning it, interacting with it, transcribing it mentally, taking notes, and getting to know and experience it as fully as possible. This is very helpful in personal artistic growth, theory, ear training, analysis, and discussion with others.
- Passive listening, the act of having music pass through your mind without questioning. This is very helpful for accomplishing other tasks, eg. cleaning, data entry, having dinner, falling asleep.
Active listening is better for musical growth, but passive listening is a fact of life, and is an enjoyable aspect of the lives we lead. Both are valid and useful; having one without the other would lead to fatigue (if there is too much active listening) or ennui (if there is too much passive listening).
So, now that we have outlined the types of listening, it is interesting to get a handle on how much listening you do per day. Here is my tally.
30 minutes passive (errands, car), 30 to 60 minutes active (blog work, general enjoyment while being active). Total listening time: 1 to 1.5 hours
30 minutes active listening (NPR, commute), 60-120 minutes passive listening (data entry and emails, work), 30-60 minutes passive listening (unwinding after work), perhaps another 30 minutes active listening (music work, blog work). Total listening time per day: 2.5 to 4 hours
60-180 minutes active listening (music work, blog work). Total listening time 1 to 3 hours
Total weekly hours: 14.5 to 24.5 hours.
That means that I spend at least one waking day listening per week, and at most more than one full day per week. That begs the questions, “What am I listening to?” “Am I over-specializing in my tastes, or under-diversifying?” “Am I balancing active and passive listening?” “How much of that time is spent dealing with advertisements on Spotify, YouTube, etc.?”
It is important to keep asking these questions, as our listening habits are constantly evolving, depending on our latest earworm or exploration.
What are your listening habits? How much listening do you do per day? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter.